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Pawsitivtrainr, Dog Trainer
Category: Dog Training
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Experience:  35+ years Training Dogs
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Our 5 year old collie cross has just had a fight with my

Customer Question

Our 5 year old collie cross has just had a fight with my partner when he took a pork bone off of her (a cooked one that she had swiped off the kitchen bench). He know wants to have this Dog put down as he cannot trust her around our 2 year old. I am heart broken at the thought of losing this Dog, but I don't know what to do to be able to keep her, I think this attack is out of character for her, she is not good around strangers but she has never gone for my partner or myself like that before. Please help, is there any advise you can give me?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.

What is the normal dynamic between your dog and your partner?

Can you tell me a little more about the circumstance such as where was your partners hand and where was the dog?

Had it been just a normal regular meal? Nothing out of the usual?

What is the dog's character like, meaning is she normally out going , shy, aggressive, etc.?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
The dynamic between the dog and my partner is usually good, which is why this has shocked and upset me. We have had Bella sine she was 8 weeks old, she has always been a bit difficult and aggressive towards strangers, and she did used to keep escaping from our property, but we took measures to combat this and have had her under control in that respect for the last few years, It seemed we were doing really well. Our dogs are fed at night on raw beef bones, they had Ben fed that night as usual. Bella got the cooked pork joint off of the kitchen bench, which is naughty of her, but we haven't been able to stop her doing this, and when she can reach good and we are not in the room, she will take it. We had left it too close to the edge of the bench this time. So, when my partner saw her with the bones he went over and picked up the bones, then she bit him. I don't understand it because he is alpha male and Bella generally respects that, we have also both trained her to accept us taking food off of her as per training advice.
She was in the dining room at the time, this njot where the dogs normally eat (we have two) they have their bones of an evening outside and their breakfast in their bowels in the laundry which is at the back of the house. Although that said, recently when renovating the laundry they had been eating out of their bowels in the dining room and they do frequently bring the remnants of their bones inside with them into this room of an evening.
We recognise that Bella is an aggressive dog, but the problem has always been with strangers, never with any of the family
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.

Thank you for that information. There could be a couple of things that caused this, but because it was sudden and upon the owners I would want to have a thyroid panel done if it continues. If it was a one time thing with you then lets look at the behavior of it all.

It may have been the change up of rooms that had her think it was okay to eat there and she may not have realized initially it was your partner she was biting but another that was taking her food.

I see you are off line at this time. You mentioned that your dog is aggressive with strangers and just by your description it is hard to tell if it is a fear based aggression or possession aggression.

I think the fact that the dog had stolen the bone off the counter meant it sees it as a very valuable item and from that I would surmise there may be some possession aggression as it was probably trying to eat it in a hurry when your partner went in to take it. Dog’s instinct for what it values will supersede the old adage that one is seen as an alpha as well, dogs don’ t really see us as other dogs so seeing us as an alpha is just not a possible. They do see us with respect or with trust. It is clear the dog puts both aside when it comes to something it wants.

I would strongly suggest such bones not be given for now unless the dog’s attitude toward what is around it changes.

I would put the dog on the learn to earn program and I would also incorporate training in a positive way using its daily dose of kibble as reward. I would train throughout the day and reward good behavior so you see more good behavior emerge. This will take away that possessiveness and the dog will see you as a consistent person of the home, and one that can be mutually trusted. As time goes on there should be a bond or respect that forms between you. Being the holder of food usually puts animals on a lower rung of a ladder in the home but the dog will never see a human as an alpha dog.

If you are not there to see the dog jump on the counter then you can lay some cayenne pepper on the counter so it is not a pleasant place to be. There are also scat mats sold on Amazon or block the kitchen off altogether so there is no access.

I am going to put information below on the learn to earn program and I would suggest clicker training to modify behavior .

Reactions to Actions or Learn to Earn

Copyright Sally G

In some instances with training depending on how well the dog responds to the above training you may also want to incorporate a type of ‘learn to earn’ training as well.

What learn to earn training means is that you are taking charge of their entire life’s wants and needs. No more free food is put down in front of them. Keep the daily dose of food in a closed tin in the area where the dog is fed, call the dog to you and ask him to sit. When he sits, he gets a handful of food. Do this throughout the day using any command that the dog knows and the dog must obey that command in order to get some food.

You will also take control of when the dogs can play. The toys should have been put away before this but if they were not, put all toys away, then when you are ready to play take out a toy and play with the dog, when you decide play is over put the toy away again.

Petting does not come to them just because they nudge you, you decide when this takes place, which means you would call them to you and pet them at your discretion and ask that a command be obeyed . If they nudge to be petted, you ignore that, but you can give the dog a command at any time to obey and reward that behavior with petting. Again you always want to reinforce a behavior you have asked for. So even though you know the dog has nudged you to be petted, you don’t have to totally ignore the dog, in fact this is the perfect opportunity to turn that nudge into a trick or command and praise and reward the dog for that.

Anything your dog takes for granted such as you opening the door to let it out, putting on a leash to go for a walk, allowing it to walk though a door before you, etc. these are all privileges to a dog that come naturally due to the human’s repetitive actions over time but many humans don’t realize this.

So before you go through that door put the dog in a sit or wait and you walk through first then invite the dog to walk through. Again this should be rewarded with praise. Before you put the leash on you ask for a sit stay. Furniture is a no, no for dogs that have aggressive tendencies because it puts them in a higher charge over the others in the home, even children.

Dogs should not just be allowed on the couch without specific invitation if at all. This need to be close and cuddle is more a human thing than a dog thing. Dogs do like to be close to the one they love and respect, but sitting on the floor next to that person will be enough to please them.

This is not to say that no dog should ever be allowed on a couch, it is perfectly fine if you have stable easy going dogs. It is when there are problem dogs in the home that furniture should be off limits to all dogs.

As mentioned above, in most cases dogs have developed habits that some owners allowed and gave in to over time but did not realize it. What might be helpful to the owner is to sit and make a list of all the good things your dog gets for free by an action that you have let the dog do for years. This will help you to turn those free behaviors into commands or tricks that can earn a reward.

When the dog tries that action to get the desired reaction from you, stop and think, did I call the dog over to be petted? Did I tell the dog it is time to go out and that is why he brings the leash? Did I say let’s play so that is why he dropped the ball in my lap? All of those actions got the dog reactions in the past usually in a positive beneficial way to the dog. So now it is time to turn that all around.

Keep in mind that dogs do what works for them and if it stops working they usually stop doing it. So when they growl or snap at you when you reach for that bone, it usually works as the human won't take it. I would never suggest to take anything from a growling dog, merely explaining that this works for the dog so therefore they do it. Using the learn to earn program does not really give them a chance to become possessive.

Dogs that are well balanced within a group to begin with do not really need any of the above things to change; it is your right to spoil a well rounded dog! It is only homes with dogs in it that have social limitations around other dogs that should need the above direction.

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos

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